I know you have lots to think about this summer. There's the Olympics and Aunt Marge's DUI. So you probably missed the report issued last week about the movie ratings.
Allow me to catch you up.
In a study undertaken by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers concluded that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is guilty of allowing "ratings creep" in its classifications. No, this does not refer to that guy in the raincoat who sits alone in the back of a Hilary Duff movie. Ratings creep is the fact that PG and PG-13 ratings have slowly, over time, allowed more profanity and sexual content. The use of rawer language and more adult sensibilities has "creeped" into films meant for families and children. And let's not even talk about R and NC-17 films.
How did this happen?
Well, where language is concerned, the creep may be on us. Let's face it, in our culture, swearing is a normal part of social intercourse. Soccer Mom driving her SUV on her way to a calming yoga class will yell things to drivers that get in her way that would make Lenny Bruce go pale. Profanity is used to punctuate even the most basic conversation. In fact, one evening last week, while out at a fashionable restaurant here in Hollywood, a gentleman at the next table, in mixed company, managed to use the f-word in every sentence. And the scary part is no one at his table seemed surprised or upset.
So you can see how ratings creep creeped into movies.
But as stunned as I am by the casual use of profanity, I am more concerned with the fair and helpful labeling of movie content by the MPAA. I have been objecting to ratings for years. But it's not necessarily profanity or sexuality that bothers me. When it comes to ratings that will warn me of exactly what I'm in for when I step inside the happy confines of the Mall Octoplex, the MPAA has come up short for years. For instance, I recoil in utter horror in every movie where a so-called "fart joke" is employed. I don't care how old one is, I don't want to see (or is it hear?) one more fart joke when I go to the movies. It was funny exactly once –- thirty years ago in Blazing Saddles -- and has not been funny since. So why am I not warned before I go in to a movie about the possibility of hearing (seeing?) one? If, say, a movie were Rated F for Fart joke, I could steer clear, couldn't I?
And would! Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury.
So to combat the creepiness of ratings creep, and to make ratings more specific so as to alert people, say me, from laying down their ten dollars before seeing a film, a proposal for other ratings I would like to see instituted:
Rated F -- Contains fart, flatulence or bathroom humor. (Also can be used as a grade, thus warning anyone who knows that F means moviemakers who use these "jokes" have flunked.)
Rated IQ-17 -- In my system, the 17 does not refer to one's age but to one's IQ level and is reserved for movies that require one to be a drooling idiot to comprehend and/or is a movie that was made by drooling idiots i.e. Soul Plane.
Rated DB-400 -- This indicates the decibel level to which the movie theater's Dolby sound system has been cranked and which is used to distract moviegoers from the lack of plot, character development and logic i.e. Van Helsing.
Rated PO -- This indicates by the time one walks out of a theater, the level of anger one has achieved knowing you've spent $10 to see the movie i.e. Soul Plane AND Van Helsing.
Rated PP -- This rating is reserved for films starring Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel or Colin Ferrell or any other leading actor who insists on full frontal male nudity.
Rated PG-30 -- Adults over 30 must be accompanied by a child. This will cut down on the number of strange men seen sitting alone in an Olsen Twins or Lindsey Lohan film.
Rated G? -- This rating allows any movie theater to check the "Guardian" status of an adult accompanying a child. (What is a guardian anyway? Now we can finally find out!)
Rated Movie Picture -- This indicates that you will be severely disappointed by this movie. The Movie Picture symbol could have been given this year to The Terminal and The Day After Tomorrow.
Rated † -- This rating indicates that the film contains "some crucifixion," ideal for Mel Gibson's The Passion and, ironically, would also apply to Halley Berry who is about to be crucified by the critics for her performance in Catwoman.
Rated BB-60 -- Indicates this movie will be available at Blockbuster in 60 days, so why bother going to see it now?
Rated ZZzzzz -- This applies to any movie written by Charlie Kaufman.
Rated BS -- Indicates any movie that Blake Snyder likes that no one else likes i.e. Around The World In 80 Days. This is also what readers can shout aloud in the privacy of their homes in response to having read his review.
This article has been Rated S for Superb (as usual.)